Monday, September 5, 2011

Distance Achieved

I am here to testify that writing the first draft of a novel is easy.

How can I say that? Well, I've done it, for one. And now that I'm beginning the first deep editing of the thing, I can say safely that the editing process is going to be a lot tougher. And I'm not just talking about the 20,000 or so words that are going to be cut out of the novel. I can do that in swathes and sections, so it'll be pretty easy and I won't hurt the continuity of the story at all. But figuring out how to make the other 90,000 words sing, while also augmenting the story in parts and making things more cohesive in general, that's going to be the tough part.

Percolation is helping. I've been gathering little ideas, impressions here and there, things that I think, wow, I should add this to the story. What's also helping is this: Walking away from it and coming back to it with a dispassionate eye.

This is an old trick, one I've applied many a time before. Walking away from a bit of writing, then coming back to it, even after 48 hours or so, lets you see its many warts and bumps and faults. That's a critical tool for any serious writer to have in his or her toolkit. But this is the biggest by far bit of writing that I've walked away from.

Trick is now I'm seeing it as a whole, not as little bitty sections as I wrote them. Sitting down to read this as a story, not as blog posts, is helping me to get a more omniscient overview of the story and characters, and how I need to do a lot more structuring to make all the little pieces fit together better to make the story overall more enjoyable. I realize there are plot elements I can extend, some that I need to drop entirely, and others that need to be explained just a bit more to help the reader -- and myself -- understand why I included them in the first place. Right now the plot and storyline is a little crooked road. I need to straighten the spine up a little bit and then trim the branches to make sure I can see the tree for the forest I've hidden it in.

So what's next? Well, with winter coming on, my goal is to have the first deep edit of this novel completed by the end of the year. I know I'm going on three years working on this novel, but the distance achieved this year by setting it aside (technically longer than I intended to at first) is going to be time well spent because I can see more the things that need to be fixed. With a good deep edit done, I'll feel better shopping this around in 2012.

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